21 August 2010

PCAST Public Statement on Space Solar Power

Readers of this blog know that Open.gov's #1 public suggestion for NASA, DOE, and OSTP was to hold a conference on Space-Based Solar Power   OSTP administers the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
President Obama specifically tasked the PCAST with providing him with Energy related scientific advice, including: "But energy is our great project, this generation's great project. And that's why I've set a goal for our nation that we will reduce our carbon pollution by more than 80 percent by 2050... I will charge PCAST with advising me about national strategies to nurture and sustain a culture of scientific innovation."

PCAST recently had a meeting where Mr. John Mankins, President of Artemis Innovation Solutions gave a public statement.  

Mr. Mankins has a 25-year career at NASA and JPL, including 10 years as the manager of Advanced Concepts Studies at NASA, and was the manager of Exploration Systems Research and Technlogy overseeing nearly a billion dollar budget of over 100 individual projects and some 3000 personnel.  

Check out what he had to say about Space Solar Power:

COMMENTS TO THE PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY WRITTEN STATEMENT

An Opportunity for Transformation: Space Solar Power
16 July 2010

John C. Mankins President, Artemis Innovation Management Solutions LLC1

To meet the challenges of Energy and the Environment in an increasingly interdependent and competitive world, novel policies and systems concepts must be pursued. Space activities are not generally considered as relevant to these global challenges outside of Earth observing, global positioning, and the like.

However, this may be an oversight of great significance.  

A space program goal that could--if achieved--radically change the dynamic for renewable energy is that of space solar power: the capability to deliver on demand energy gathered in space to global markets almost continuously.

Unfortunately, as things now stand the US can scarcely even consider this revolutionary goal. No Agency combines the right mix of responsibilities for security, space development, U.S. energy needs, and international relations. DOE is responsible for energy, not space. NASA is responsible for space and aeronautics, not energy. And so on. And with constrained budgets no Agency is looking to add additional goals to their current responsibilities.

Also, some believe the concept of space solar power is impossible. Such views are based largely on conviction, not engineering. Not for more than a decade has there been in the US a systematic, end--to--end study of the concept, nor any meaningful R&D.

And look how far non--space technology has progressed in the past 10 years. Why should space solar power be impossible, except that it is that we have assumed it is so. Basing policies and programs on such assumptions is no recipe for innovation.  

In fact, in 2000 an independent National Research Council review committee found that space solar power was already then technically feasible and that the only R&D issues to resolve involve the question of eventual economic viability. 

The revolutionary new systems concept that could enable space solar power is that of intelligent modular systems building truly enormous future space capabilities out of many hundreds and thousands of smaller component systems. This concept applies to space the principals and architectures of networked systems from hives of bees to cloud computing.

Of course, diverse new technologies still in the laboratory must be proven for space solar power in wireless power transmission, robotics, materials, electronics, and other areas. And numerous new supporting infrastructures will be needed, including low cost launch, affordable in-- space transportation, and others. But, recall how the steam engine changed the world and it was first fabricated from known materials by adult craftsmen working in existing shops. Similar systems--level revolutions resulted from internal combustion, electrification, and heavier than air flight. Although innumerable breakthroughs followed, the beginnings of each lay in new concepts, visionary investments and focused development. 

In the same way, no breakthroughs are required to build the first space solar power pilot plants.

I believe that in a decade or less, the first space solar power pilot plant could be in orbit, delivering to people in multiple countries both clean energy, and a new vision of the interconnectedness of space and Earth. And that within a generation, space solar power could be established as a competitive green energy source in markets worldwide.

Certainly, a revolution in technology, such as space solar power is urgently needed one that would allow the US, working with others to deliver by mid century 100s of thousands of megawatts of carbon--free power to global markets.

The concept of space solar power is under consideration in several countries around the world, ranging from India where key groups and a former President have proposed an international study of the idea, to Japan where space solar power is already an official goal of the Japanese space program. This is a unique moment when the US could demonstrate critical, catalytic leadership working with friends around the world to explore an already technically feasible but fundamentally new and sustainable source of energy.

I urge the PCAST to give consideration to space solar power as a prospective national--level goal that could enhance and engage the best of U.S. government competencies, business capabilities and international relations.

Thank you for this opportunity to present these views to the Council. A copy of my oral statement to the PCAST is appended, as are extensive references on the topic of space solar power.

Appendix 2 Discussion Points for OSTP / PCAST Public Statement
Meeting the dual challenges of Energy and the Environment in an interdependent and competitive world demands novel policies and systems concepts. Space activities are not generally considered as relevant to these global challenges outside of Earth observing, global positioning, and the like.

However, this may be an oversight of great significance.

A space program goal that could if achieved radically change the dynamic for renewable energy internationally is that of space solar power: the capability to deliver on demand energy gathered in space to global markets almost continuously.

Unfortunately, as things now stand the US can scarcely even consider this revolutionary goal. No Agency combines the right mix of responsibilities for security, space development, U.S. energy, and international relations. The DOE is responsible for energy, not space. NASA is responsible for space and aeronautics, not energy. And so on.

And, some believe space solar power is impossible. However, such views are based largely on conviction, not engineering. For over a decade the US has conducted no systematic, end--to--end study of this concept, nor any meaningful R&D.

Of course, diverse technologies must be proven for space solar power in wireless power transmission, robotics, and other areas. But, recall how the steam engine changed the world and it was first fabricated from known materials by craftsmen working in existing shops.

In a decade or less, the first space solar power pilot plant could be in orbit, delivering to people in multiple countries clean energy, and a new vision of the interconnectedness of space and Earth.  

Clearly, a revolution is needed one that can enable the US, working with others to deliver by mid century 100s of thousands of megawatts of carbon--free power to global markets. 

I urge the PCAST to give consideration to space solar power as a prospective national--level goal that could enhance and engage the best of U.S. government competencies, business capabilities and international relations.

1 For additional Information, please contact: John C. Mankins; President, Artemis Innovation Management Solutions LLC; P.O. Box
6660, Santa Maria, California
93456 USA; email: john.c.mankins@artemisinnovation.com; website: http://www.artemisinnovation.com.

Appendix 1 Selected Bibliography of Relevant References Key References

Feingold, Harvey, et al, Space Solar Power A Fresh Look at the Feasibility of Generating Solar Power in Space for Use on Earth (SAIC; Schaumberg, Illinois, USA). 02 April 1997.

Glaser, Peter, Ph.D.; Method and Apparatus for Converting Solar Radiation to Electrical Power.(US Patent No. 3,781,647; U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; Washington, D.C.)
25 December 1973.

Howell, Joseph T. and Mankins, John C., Highly Reusable Space Transportation A Summary Report; Retrospective 2009 (Presented at the International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / IAA SPS 2009 Workshop; Toronto, Canada). 8--11 September 2009.

Mankins, John C. and Kaya, Nobuyuki, A Report On The Status of the IAA Study Group on Solar Energy from Space, IAC--C3.1.1 (Presented at the 60th International Astronautical Congress; Daejeon, Republic of Korea). October 2009.

Mankins, John C. and Howell, Joseph T.; Overview of the Space Solar Power Exploratory Research and Technology Program ---- AIAA 2000--3060 (35th Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference; Las Vegas, Nevada USA). 24--28 July 2000.

National Research Council, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, Committee for the Assessment of NASA's Space Solar Power Investment Strategy, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, Laying the Foundation for Space Solar Power: An Assessment of NASA's Space Solar Power Investment Strategy. (National Academies Press; Washington, D.C. USA). 2001.

Additional References

Brandhorst, Henry; Megawatt SEPS and Mars Exploration(International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / SPS 2009 at the Ontario Science Center; Toronto, Canada). 810 September 2009.

Criswell, David R., Power Collection and Transmission System and Method
(US Patent No. 3,781,647; U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; Washington, D.C.)
28 May 1991.

Commercial Space Transportation Study Team, Commercial Space Transport Study Final Report,(Distributed by W. Piland, NASA Langley Research Center; Hampton, Virginia; USA). April 1994.

Ignatiev, Alex, Ph.D., Opportunities to Employ Lunar Surface Materials in a Future Space Solar Power Economy, (Presented at the International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / IAA SPS 2009 Workshop; Toronto, Canada). 8--11 September 2009.

Kaya, Nobuyuki; Mankins, John C.; Iwashita, Masashi; Little, Frank; and Marzwell, Neville; Hawaii Demonstation of Microwave Beam Control, supported by the Discovery Channel; (International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / SPS 2009 at the Ontario Science Center; Toronto, Canada). 8--10 September 2009.

Kaya, Nobuyuki, et al.; Crawling Robots On Large Web In Rocket Experiment On Furoshiki Deployment (55th International Astronautical Congress; Vancouver, Canada). 2004.

Mankins, John C., Space Solar Power: A Fresh Look, AIAA
95--3653 (Presented at the 1995 AIAA Space Programs and Technologies Conference, Huntsville, Alabama). September 1995.

Penn, Jay, and Law, Glenn, Future SSP Systems Concepts: the Laser Option.
Commercial and Military Applications, (Presented at the International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / IAA SPS 2009 Workshop; Toronto, Canada).
8--11 September 2009.

Mankins, John C., A Technical Overview Of The SunTower Solar Power Satellite Concept (IAF--97--R.2.08; 38th International Astronautical Federation, Turin, Italy)
6--10 October 1997.

Mankins, John C.; An Affordable Lunar Launch Concept: MagLifter on the Moon
(revisiting the Lunatron); (International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / SPS
2009 at the Ontario Science Center; Toronto, Canada).
8--10 September 2009.

Mankins, John C.; Technology Readiness Levels Definitions (White Paper NASA Headquarters; Washington, D.C.; USA). 1995.

Mankins, John C.; Research & Development Degree of Difficulty A White Paper
(White Paper, Advanced Projects Office, NASA Headquarters; Washington, D.C.; USA).
10 March1998. McSpadden, James; Advances in RF Wireless Power Transmission;
(International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / SPS 2009 at the Ontario Science Center; Toronto, Canada). 8--10 September 2009.

Mihara, Shoichiro; Fuse, Yoshiharu; Saito, Takashi, and Ijichi, Koichi; WPT Technology Demonstration Options at USEF; (International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / SPS 2009 at the Ontario Science Center; Toronto, Canada). 8--10 September 2009.

Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress; Solar Power Satellites. (Washington DC.) 1981.

Powell, James, R., Maise, George and Rather, John, Maglev Launch An Ultra Low Cost Way to Deploy Space Solar Power Systems (Presented at the International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / IAA SPS 2009Workshop; Toronto, Canada).
8--11 September 2009.